1:33 AM; CLINSTONE, THE AUSTEN-TAYLOR HOUSEHOLD, FOYER
Jamal shrugged a coat on over his shoulders and pulled open the door, stepping outside. He stopped, his gaze focused on a dark figure. “Mister Mason,” he greeted.
Jacob lifted his head from where he sat on the steps. “Hey, Pitman.”
With a heavy sigh, Jamal sat down beside Jacob. The stairs were cold, but they weren’t wet or covered in snow. Jamal was thankful for that. “What’re you doing here?”
“I don’t know yet,” Jacob admitted. “I didn’t see Bo yesterday, and I couldn’t sleep because of that. He’s like a brother to me.” He sighed, clasping his hands between his knees. “He called you, so he’s not okay.”
“He’s handling it. He called me to bring his parents, to help watch over the girls,” Jamal said.
Jacob nodded. “How’s Jensen?”
“Good. They’re both a little down, obviously, but they’re supporting each other,” Jamal said. “Hell, they’re curled up on the couch now. Bo’s awake, just… holding him. They take turns, giving each other a chance to cry, a chance to be strong for the other. They’re working through it.”
“Good.” Jacob cleared his throat. “What’re you sneaking outta the house for?”
Jamal snorted. “I’m not sneaking anywhere. Just heading out for a bit.”
“Mm… let’s call it a stakeout,” Jamal said. He smacked a hand against Jacob’s thigh. “You wanna come with? It’d help out our little lab geek.”
“You’re tracking the Executioner?” Jacob asked.
“Hell, yeah,” Jacob whispered, pushing himself to his feet. “Count me in, Pitman,” he added, holding out a hand.
Jamal stared at the outstretched hand for a moment before grabbing it, accepting the help to his feet. “I’m amazed, Mister Mason,” he said softly. “I assumed you hated me far too much to go anywhere with me.”
“I love Bo, and he loves you. If you’re his family, you’re at least someone I can’t hate,” Jacob said. “Kathy, though… I can hate her. No offense, of course.”
Jamal chuckled, shaking his head. “None taken. Katherine’s her own breed of bitch. She’s proud of it, but it’s not a compliment fifty percent of the time.” Down the street, Frank pulled open the back door of the car. “You first, Mister Mason.”
“Thank you,” Jacob said, sliding into the seat.
Jamal followed. “May I ask what bad experience you have with Katherine?” he questioned as Frank closed the door.
“Nothing personal. She has an issue with Bo, so I’ve got an issue with her,” Jacob said.
Jamal’s eyes narrowed as he turned to look out the window. “Of course,” he said quietly. “She doesn’t know how to behave around others.”
Jacob scoffed. “Clearly.”
“Sir?” Frank questioned as he got into the car.
“I texted you the address,” Jamal said. Frank nodded, starting the car. “Katherine isn’t good with people,” Jamal encouraged.
“I managed to gather that. I mean, my God, who do you think you are that gives you the right to tell a man that the man he loves is only marrying him because he’s trying to get over a dead woman? It’s disgusting, and it’s fucking wrong.”
Jamal cleared his throat. How long had Bo been hiding that one from him? “Mister Mason? How long have you known about that?”
“Uh, oh,” Jacob whispered. “You didn’t know.”
“No, I did not.”
“I think I’ll just go home.”
“Frank,” Jamal said. Frank locked the doors and continued driving down the road. “You aren’t going anywhere, Mason. I’m not going to hurt you. Answer the question.”
“Not long,” Jacob said. “I didn’t find out until after the wedding.”
“Who told you?”
“God, no. Jensen told me and basically told me not to let Bo know that I knew,” Jacob said. “Are you gonna tell him I told you? I swear, Pitman, I figured you knew.”
Jamal shook his head. “I’m not going to tell him anything,” he said. “I just want to know why he didn’t tell me.”
“Do you… want my opinion?”
“Sure. Amaze me.”
“Bo doesn’t like knowing that he’s important to you,” Jacob said. “If he told you, you would’ve taken his side, even though you raised Kathy, and it would’ve forced him to remember again that he’s important to you.”
Jamal sighed. “You know him far too well.”
“Had a long time to learn. He’s family. Complicated, but family. My job here is to know as much as I can about him. It guarantees he can come to me with just about anything,” Jacob said.
“He’s always going to need you for that.”
“I know. You really aren’t going to tell him about this?”
“Nope. You have my word.”
Jacob let out a breath. “Thanks, Pitman.”
“My pleasure, Mister Mason.”
4:41 AM; CHESTERWICK STORAGE COMPANY, UNIT FOUR
“So this is it,” Jacob said quietly.
“This is where he would’ve built that little guillotine of his,” Jamal said, staring out the window of the car.
“Are we gonna go inside?”
Jamal snorted. “No. It’s locked, Mister Mason.”
“Has that stopped you before?”
“I do follow the law when I feel like it,” Jamal said. He glanced over at Jacob before looking out the window again. “Quarter to five is far too early to break the law.”
“We should pick the lock.” Jamal and Frank turned to look at the lieutenant. “What?”
“You’re a lot more… I’m not certain,” Jamal said. “For criticizing me a lot in your free time, you sure are open to suggestions.”
“To my credit, I no longer criticize you in my free time,” Jacob said. “And me picking a lock is how we caught our Bonekeeper.” He grabbed Jamal’s arm. “We should pick the lock.”
Jamal stared at Jacob’s hand for a moment before lifting his dark eyes to Jacob’s face. Slowly, one corner of his mouth lifted. “Let’s go pick a lock.”
“Yes,” Jacob whispered, climbing out of the car.
“Is this a good idea, sir?” Frank asked from the front seat.
“Good enough of one.” Jamal got out of the car. “Drive out front and keep an eye out. If the guy comes here, call.”
“Of course, sir.”
Jamal shut the door, watching Frank pull away. He turned around and walked up to Jacob. “What kind of lock have you picked?” he questioned, pulling a small case out of his suit jacket’s inner pocket.
“Nothing complex. Just, you know, a household door knob,” Jacob said.
Jamal chuckled softly. “Want me to teach you how to pick this one?”
“Holy shit, you would do that?”
“Is that a yes, Mister Mason?”
Jamal held the case out to Jacob. “Well, then we’ve got some learning to do.”
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